ARTIST INTERVIEW: LARRY ACHIAMPONG

by Naomi Jackson

Larry Achiampong at Open Source Contemporary Arts Festival, curated by Marie d’Elbée, Dalston, 2016

Following his work at Open Source Contemporary Arts Festival in 2015 and 2016, we catch up with London-based artist Larry Achiampong as he prepares for another beautifully busy and innovative year.

What is your practice, and what is your working process?

My art practice tends to employ imagery, aural or visual archives, live performance and sound — I know that’s quite a mouthful, but I think there is no one true way to express ideas! I’m interested in exploring viewpoints surrounding class, cross-cultural and post-digital identity — in particular, the contradictions we find within social media and digital frameworks. I work in a multitude of ways process-wise: I have my solo practice, but I also work collaboratively. I have been working alongside fellow artist David Blandy for the last four years, and I also founded the art collective ‘The Network 11’ two years ago as well, so I like to produce work and connect with people through differing methods and platforms.

What themes are you currently exploring in your work? How do they materialise themselves, and why do you explore them?

A lot of my work as of late has centred around issues concerning migration, hybridity and the postcolonial, whilst linking personal and interpersonal stories of oppression. A recent work in progress titled ‘Ph03nix Rising: The Mogya Project’ (which I presented at Open Source Contemporary Art’s Festival last year) is a work in progress that has evolved since its first iteration. The work is a combination of sound, audio and gaming footage that encompasses colonial narratives from past, present and future perspectives. The Open Source platform allowed me the space to try out some of these new ideas and since then I have since been considering implementing additional elements including spoken word and dance.

Larry Achiampong, photo by Alice Marcelino as part of We do Black Hair, Open Source Contemporary Arts Festival, Dalston, 2016

What else has been influencing you lately, aside from the arts?

It is impossible to not consider the news stories in the West at the moment regarding the rise of Right-Wing Nationalism and Populism, but to be honest, there are segments of my practice that have been looking at the effects of these ideals for years. The situation with Trump and Brexit is just a reminder of what we face and what we are increasingly up against. There is a strong sense of depression in our current times, but history carries far worse stories of struggle, so there is hope that in time things must and will be shifted.

It probably sounds s little corny, but my children really do influence me. I have a daughter and son, and it has been great to grow with them as a young parent, but also to (re)learn about the world around us through their eyes. I think that adults tend to think that they know a lot more than children, when really we don’t. Children have a way of simplifying situations and adults tend to overcomplicate them.

Glyth, 2013/14. Courtesy of the artist.

What are you currently working on? What are you plans for the foreseeable future?

I will be showcasing new work at the 57th Venice Biennale in the first Diaspora Pavillion. I will also be developing new work as part of a new commission with the initiative PS-Y surrounding hysteria. I am also showcasing work in the Third Live Art Festival in association with the ICA and the University of Cape Town. I have a few other things up my sleeve this year, but cannot talk about them yet, sorry!